Put the ‘self’ back in Self-Confidence

Most of us, if we are honest, would like to feel more confident in at least some situations. So, how do we boost our reserves of self-confidence?

Have a bridging strategy?

It is very difficult to jump from perceived lack of confidence straight into self-confidence; you need a strategy to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be. From my own experience and from working with many clients on this topic, the most effective bridging qualities are courage and calmness.

Courage – the gateway to confidence

‘Faking it until we make it’ is a valid strategy for boosting self-confidence (after a while the ‘faking’ just becomes an ingrained habit,) but for it to seem genuine we have to feel that we have earned the right to feel confident. This usually means setting ourselves a goal or target; we decide to do something that we would have otherwise avoided. This could be something as simple as asking a question during a team meeting, or saying no to an unwanted request. What will enable us to take this new action or to approach an old situation in a new way? You’ve guessed it – courage.

In the movies courage is usually depicted in the midst of explosions and epic deeds. In real life courage is not found in heroic quests; we find our courage when we are alone with our thoughts and struggling with uncertainty. It is in those moments, when without fanfare or applause, we make a courageous decision, we draw a line in the sand and say ‘no more,’ or we quietly, yet determinedly decide to ‘give it a go.’

One of the simplest ways of accessing our reserves of courage is to recall times when we exercised courage in the past, when we overcame a challenge, when we acted in spite of feeling nervous or worried. It is a cliché but if we are looking to feel differently, we have to approach situations differently, we have to take different actions and we do this by being just a little more courageous.

Perhaps calmness is what you really want?

Recently, I asked a client this question; ‘if you already have all the confidence you need, what is it you really want?’ His immediate response was calmness. The minute he said it, I could see and he could feel, the stress and worry drain away. He thought he was seeking confidence, but in reality it was inner peace and calmness and to be able to approach situations in a more relaxed way. We can all relate to that sentiment.

There are two voices in our heads; the ‘gremlin’ voice and the voice of inner wisdom. The gremlin voice is the one that focuses on the worst case scenarios, the one that talks us down; it’s the mouthpiece of our perceived lack of worthiness, feeling like a fraud and our fear of being judged by others. The voice of our internal wisdom is only audible when we are quiet. It’s the voice that says – ‘you’ll get through this,’ ‘what’s the worst that can happen,’ ‘this too will pass.’

Until quite recently when working with clients on self-confidence, (or indeed working on it myself,) I’ve focused on the word ‘confidence.’ From the Latin, ‘con fidis,’ the word confidence means ‘with faith,’ so we are doing something with faith in ourselves, with faith that everything will work out. But now I place equal emphasis on the word ‘self’ in the term ‘self-confidence.’

When we feel we are lacking in self-confidence, our focus is on others and what we think they are thinking about us. We discount or discard completely our own wisdom, our own opinion. When we feel we are lacking in self-confidence, our gremlin voice is overactive, screeching things like –

  • What will they think of me?
  • Sure I couldn’t say or do that!
  • They’re judging me.
  • He’d reject me.
  • There’s no point in trying I’ll fail anyway.
  • I’m a fraud and others will find out.

Simply put, when we believe we are lacking in self-confidence, we are doing a hell of a lot of mindreading. We attempt to go inside other people’s heads and do their thinking for them. We are ignoring our inner wisdom. We are not self referencing. We are not trusting or having faith in ourselves. We are ignoring the ‘self’ in self-confidence.

How do we counteract the gremlin voice? We start by purposely asking ourselves questions such as –

  • What works for me?
  • How do I really feel about this?
  • What is the right thing for me to do?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What sits best with me?
  • If I was being my true self, what would I do or say?

Questions like these help us strengthen our connection with ourselves. Your inner wisdom is your constant and strongest ally; it is that part of you that remains unchanged throughout your lifetime. It is that deep-seated wisdom that has guided you at key moments in your life. What would your life be like if you just trusted it a little more?

When we are connected with our inner wisdom, everything seems so simple, we are filled with a sense of possibility and somehow we just feel completely ourselves. It’s in this space that coincidences and synchronicities occur, we somehow become luckier and events conspire to assist us.

Like happiness, self-confidence is something that happens naturally when we simply get on with the business of living our authentic lives, when we stop putting what we think other people might be thinking about us ahead of what feels right on the inside.  

James Sweetman is a Business & Personal Coach, Motivational Speaker and Author. For more information on all his services visit www.jamessweetman.com. He’s also on all the main social media channels including YouTube. He facilitates a popular monthly Facebook Live event and his weekly Podcast ‘Your Time with James Sweetman’ launches in May 2019.

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